Grain Elevator

grainnoun | \'grān\ : a seed or fruit of a cereal grass
elevatornoun | \ˈe-lə-ˌvā-tər\ : one that raises or lifts something up

Why are so many people becoming terrified of food? Or maybe a better question is, why did it take so long? It's not hard to understand the fear.  Just take a stroll through the super market. Things are changing, mostly for the better, but don't for a second believe that those changes are driven by logic, science, or nutrition. They are driven by consumer demand, and let's face it, that is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. We all want to eat "better." The problem is, we don't all agree what "better" means. For some it means more flavor, or more nutritious. For others it means fewer ingredients, and to other, it just means more.

We fight this confusion by creating strict rules about what we will eat and what we refuse to eat. Every time a new report in a medical journal anoints a new "superfood" or declares a new enemy, books are written, diets created, and a whole new crop of products hit the shelves.

The battle lines are fierce. You can see the scars of past and present campaigns in every aisle. "0 trans fats!", "NO CHOLESTEROL ",  "REDUCED SODIUM", "GLUTEN-FREE", "Paleo-Friendly." Even when a new study reveals a previous claim to be exaggerated or completely wrong, the trend is not undone. The products continue to sell. Consumers are easily hooked and that, after all, is the bottom line.

Avoiding grain is the latest silver bullet (You know, the magical weapon that kills werewolves and also the nickname of a Coors Light.) Removing grain from one's diet will have dramatic effects, similar to fasting or starvation. The body enters a state of ketosis allowing it to draw energy directly from fat instead of sugar. I find this fascinating; fascinating in the same way I find free-diving. It is awe-inspiring that someone can train their body to hold a breath for several minutes and dive to 500ft for more, but that doesn't mean that I think we all should do it.

I embrace the idea that our bodies are run by an amazing hybrid engine that can run on almost any fuel we put in it. In fact, it runs best on a mixture and when properly primed it can store and dole out sustained energy from a single meal throughout the day. The best sources of fuel are whole foods that come from nature. Some of the most nutritious whole foods are in the form of grains.

A kernel of grain contains a mixture of protein, a tiny amount of fat, a bit of starch, and a wrapper of fiber. These are the building blocks of a healthy diet and here they are all together in one neat little package. We only ran into trouble when we started stripping these bits apart and only consuming the starch: white bread brought to you by consumer demand!

Now that we know better, let's act on it. But first, to get at all of the goodness that whole grains have to offer we need a bit more help from nature: fermentation. Yes, yeast and bacteria have been making food and drink better since the dawn of time. With just a bit of patience, natural fermentation will go to work on these grains unlocking protein and nutrients that would otherwise pass right through our systems. The added bonus if the wonderful flavor that results from the process. Maybe we find this flavor so alluring because this is how we were meant to consume grains all along?

In fact, this was how we all consumed grains until consumer demand sent us off in the wrong direction. The good news it, we have the power to get us back on track. We are the consumers. We can demand better food. We can demand whole grains and we can demand that all of our whole grains are naturally fermented. Better taste. Better for you. Better for the planet.

(Reposted by permission from my other site No Grain Left Behind.)